If you ever wonder how America ended up with the artificial turning-ahead of clocks that we call Daylight Saving Time, my article, from Appalachia journal, will interest you.
Daylight saving time currently prevails for the majority of the year. In March, the dark mornings remind us of the winters of 1974 and 1975, during the Middle East oil embargo and subsequent drop in supplies. In those winters, as in March 2007, Americans set out to work and school in the dark so that the evenings would be lighter. This year, pay attention to your circadian rhythms. How are faring as we turn the clocks ahead in March, ten days before the end of winter? How will you do in November, when the country regains the “lost” hour?
Daylight saving time was first proposed by a British man who was disgusted that most people slept too late. Daylight saving time places a new time on the sunset, fooling us into rising earlier to get those pleasant evenings. For some reason, we respond better to changing the clock than to deciding to get up earlier.
In the recreational backcountry—the mountains, wilderness lands, along rivers, and on the ocean—when adventurers have no electricity or business appointments, you can’t do much without the sun. No one but you expects you to be anywhere in particular when you are away from cities and towns. The only good thing about a clock is that it helps you plan your day by a map or guidebook. But even then, the usual ticking of each hour slows down, and life takes on a rhythm that is seasonal. In the backcountry, no one can pretend that every day is the same.